Disclaimer: The characters and their world are the property of J.K. Rowling, various publishers and Warner Bros. No money is being made and no copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Note: My special thanks to aliceravenclaw and John Adams for all their help in beta reading this story and keeping me on character with Harry and the gang. Also for their many suggestions that made this story better than it would have been.
CHAPTER 1: A VISIT FROM MY ANGEL
The wind ripped the trees and rooftops of Privet Drive as a wild rain, which seemed to come from all directions, lashed at the well-kept homes. The steel-grey skies were illuminated at intervals by the jagged fingers of lightening, while deafening claps of thunder threatened to shake the houses from their very foundations. Leaves were torn from the trees, swept across the neatly manicured lawns and dumped into the overflowing gutters. The debris was then swept down the streets to the storm drains, and eventually to the sea. These were not the light showers that England normally received during the summer months; but rather the kind of hard, wind-driven rain that comes just before winter takes hold.
It had been raining steadily for almost a week now; asserting once again the power of nature over the feeble efforts of man; but in one house such impudence would simply not be tolerated. Vernon and Petunia Dursley of number four maintained an orderly life, and no element of nature would be permitted to cause such a disruption.
A boy with dark, unkempt hair watched as his uncle stared out the window at the wind and rain. The older man's large hands were clenched into tight fists, his knuckles white. Suddenly, the man spun about and advanced towards the boy, his face red with anger. Pointing a pudgy finger at his nephew, Vernon Dursley demanded: "Do you have anything to do with this, boy?"
"How could I have anything to do with the rain?" The skinny boy replied incredulously, taking a step backwards.
"Don't pretend to be innocent with me, boy. Your kind have their ways," Vernon Dursley said with a sneer. But then he turned abruptly away from his abnormal nephew, feeling regret that he had broken the comfortable code of silence that had existed since the boy returned from school, and began to speak to his wife. "Damned impertinence this rain, Petunia. Something should be done about it. The government should do something about it. I'm going to write a letter to the press.
"But Vernon, its only rain," Petunia Dursey said meekly.
"That's not the point, Petunia," Vernon Dursey said an angry voice. "That's not the point at all. Nature has to be controlled, and regulated, and bent to the needs of man. Otherwise it's like…like that other thing." He said, jerking his thumb in the direction of his nephew. "You can't let it control your life; you have to be the master."
Harry had an image of his uncle standing out in the front yard, yelling at the storm. Telling it to cease and desist immediately or he would contact his solicitor and action would be taken. The thought brought a rare smile to the boy's face, a smile that his uncle immediately noticed.
"And what are you doing down here, boy?" The red-faced man demanded.
"I just came down to get something to eat," the boy said defensively, and he hurried into the kitchen. Harry had started his summer vacation a week before, but had only set foot outside of his bedroom to use the loo and get an occasional bite to eat. He was making a conscious effort to avoid his relatives as much as possible.
This arrangement seemed to be just fine with said relatives, as the less they saw of their abnormal nephew and his strange world the better they liked it. After meeting Harry's "friends" at King's Cross Station, Uncle Vernon decided that it would be "safer" to leave the boy completely alone.
The pain of the previous semester hung like a weight around Harry's neck, forcing him into a deep depression. The death of his Godfather, the injuries to his friends and the terrible prophecy which hung over his head like a sword was causing Harry to isolate himself even more than in the past. He had even given some serious thought to leaving school, and so protect his friends from the danger that he represented. At the same time he realized that he couldn't do it; he would need all the training he could get if he was to face the most powerful dark wizard that ever lived. But he was so tired, so desperately tired, he just wanted it to be all over once and for all.
Harry felt he really needed to talk to someone, but who was there that he could trust? After the events of last term Harry didn't really feel comfortable discussing his problems with Professor Dumbledore. Remus Lupin was still trying to deal with the deep grief of losing his best friend. And Harry didn't feel prepared to discuss it with Ron and Hermonie. He still hadn't been able to tell them about the terrible prophecy that required him to kill Voldemort, or be killed by him.
Then Harry's thoughts turned to someone else. Not for the first time since he had returned home did his thoughts turn to Luna Lovegood; the strange girl that he had first met on the Hogwarts Express less than a year before. Her kind words on the evening of the Leaving Feast had made a profound impression on him, and had eased his pain for a little while at least. Luna was different, that was certain, but then so was he; and she managed to handle being different a lot better than he could. Another thing they had in common was that they both knew death; she could see the Thestrals just as he could. It seemed that if anyone could understand it might be Luna. But she was in Sweden with her father hunting for some strange creature that everyone said was just a myth. Besides, he really didn't know her that well, how could he ever share such a burden with her? Harry sighed deeply, buried his head in the pillow, and tried to go back to sleep.
Late that night Harry awoke to a familiar "tap, tap, tap" sound coming from the window. He concluded that it must be Hedwig returning from her nightly hunt, and he hoped desperately that she hadn't brought him back another mouse. Swinging his feet off the bed and onto the floor, Harry stretched his arms towards the ceiling. He didn't understand why he still felt tired; he hadn't done anything but sleep for the past week.
"Tap, tap, tap, tap," came the sound from the window, a little louder this time.
"I'm coming." Harry answered, stifling a yawn, and staggering over to the window. Throwing open the sash he saw a dark form fly into the room and alight on his desk. Putting on his glasses for the first time, he saw that it wasn't Hedwig, but instead was a strange owl that Harry had never seen before. He recognized the variety as a Great Horned Owl; and it was the first time that Harry had even seen this type of owl used for mail delivery.
The owl gave the boy a friendly "hoot, hoot" and raised its right leg. Harry removed the parchment and gave the large bird a couple of owl treats. Unrolling the scroll, he saw with some surprise that it was from Luna Lovegood.
I'm sorry I didn't see you on the Hogwarts Express at the end of term, but my Father picked me up from school. We're in southern Sweden right now, organizing an expedition into the interior. I wanted to look for you on the train. I thought you might want to talk some more, and I thought maybe I could help. I know we're not close, you may even think I'm crazy, but I do understand what you're going through; I've gone through it myself. I do want to help, Harry, I really do; if you'll let me.
My owl's name is Achillies. He can find us wherever we are. I know how lonely you must be; I'm lonely too. If you want to write me I promise I'll write back.
Harry didn't even realize it, but as he read Luna's letter tears were forming in his eyes. He saw at once the sincerity of her words. No one else could truly understand, but somehow he thought that Luna could.
Something told Harry that this was a letter that couldn't wait. He sat down at his desk and pulled out parchment and a quill. He thought for several minutes about what he should write, and then decided that the only way she could help him was if he was honest. With difficulty, he began to write.
Thank you so much for writing. I appreciate it that you care enough to want to help, and I do want to write you. I don't think you're crazy, and I never did. You're brave, and smart, and I think of you as a friend.
I feel so bad about what happened that night. It's my fault that he's gone. If I hadn't been so stubborn Voldemort would never have been able to lure me into his trap. And Sirius paid for it with his life; you all almost did as well. You would all be better off without me. It's dangerous to be my friend.
He rolled up the parchment and took it over to the large owl, which was waiting patiently on his desk. "Achilles, this is for Luna. Will you take it to her?" The owl gave a "hoot" that the boy took as a yes, and extended its leg. After securing the parchment in place, Harry opened the window and the large owl flew out into the midnight sky. He had no idea how long it would take the owl to reach Sweden, let alone locate Luna, so the next three days seemed endless.
Very early on the third morning Harry was awakened by the sound of tapping. Opening his eyes and looking towards the window, he saw Achilles sitting patiently on the ledge outside. He leaped out of bed, almost falling as he did so, and rushing to the window he threw open the sash. The owl flew in and landed on Harry's desk, where he hooted happily, holding out his leg. Harry hastily took the parchment, gave the bird a couple of owl treats and some water, and sat down on his bed to read the scroll.
I won't start this letter by asking how you are. I know how you are. You're angry, depressed, frustrated, and maybe a little bit scared. I know that's how you feel, because that's how I felt.
When my Mum died I blamed myself for her accident. I told myself that I should have done something, that somehow I should have stopped her, and that everyone would have been better off if it had been me and not her.
I was wrong. My Mum took the risks that she did because it was her job. Just as Sirius acted as he did because fighting evil is worth any sacrifice. Try to remember the good things, remember the love he felt for you and you felt for him. We all make mistakes. Forgive yourself as you know Sirius would forgive you. And please don't turn away from those of us who love you, and count on you to lead us in this fight. We can't do this without you, and evil is still out there.
As for Sirius, and my Mum, we really will see them again you know. And we do want them to be proud of us when that time comes, don't we?
Please write to me again, Harry, I want to help.
Harry looked at Luna's letter for a long time, tears beginning to flow down his cheeks. She had again lifted some of the terrible weight from his shoulders. The fact that someone really did seem to understand was tremendously reassuring to him. He quickly got quill and parchment and began to write a reply.
Thanks. Your letter really helped. I wish you were here so I could really tell you how much it meant to me. Sometimes I forget that I'm not alone, and that I have good friends like you that care about me.
You were right; I do blame myself for Sirius' death. But it's not just that. I've just got so much hanging over me that I don't know what to do. I just want it over, I'm so tired. I'm just tired of waiting, of watching people close to me get hurt and killed. I just want him to come so we can finish it.
Harry really didn't even give any thought to the way he had signed the letter, he was just too exhausted. He tied the parchment to Achilles' leg and sent him off, and then fell back on his bed and was asleep in a few seconds.
Two nights later Harry awoke with a start. Someone was gently stroking his face! In the bright moonlight that flooded in through his bedroom window he saw Luna Lovegood kneeling by his bed. She had silver tears streaming down her face, and in the moonlight she looked like an enchanted being from some other world.
"Luna," he exclaimed, "what are you doing here?"
"You needed me." She replied softly, in a rather sad voice.
Harry sat up on the side of his bed and tried to gather his wits about him. Luna sat down gently on the bed next to him, quite close he thought.
"But how…how did you get here from Sweden, and so fast?"
"As soon as your letter arrived I talked to my Father. He contacted Professor Dumbledore and got the coordinates for your bedroom, and then he made me a Portkey. You needed to talk, so I came," she said simply, laying a gentle hand on Harry's arm.
It took Harry a few moments to take in all that she said; all the while Luna was staring at him with her large silver eyes, waiting until he was ready.
"I do need to talk to someone…before I go crazy," the young boy confessed. And then, taking a deep breath, Harry continued, "I really don't think I can take it anymore." With that simple admission a flood of pent up emotion came pouring out. He admitted his grief over the death of Sirus, his guilt over being drawn into Voldemort's trap, his growing distrust of Dumbledore and his motives, and most of all his feelings of loneliness and isolation. He never even realized it when Luna pulled him into a tight hug. He buried his head into her soft hair and started to cry, holding her tightly. Once started, he couldn't stop. Years of abuse, sorrow, grief and loneliness came out in a flood of tears. Luna just sat there and held him, rocking him back and forth, and whispering soothing words in his ear; much as his Mother might have, if she had lived.
Finally cried out and exhausted, Harry fell asleep in Luna's arms. She laid him down on his pillow and covered him with a blanket. Luna curled up on the floor next to the bed and wrapped herself in a spare blanket.
"No, no, don't do it," Luna awoke to Harry shouting in his sleep. Standing, she could see that he was still asleep, struggling in his bed and soaked in sweat. Ginny Weasley had told her that Harry was subject to frequent nightmares, but she never thought they were so violent. She lifted the blanket, climbed into the bed beside him and held him close to her. He immediately relaxed and fell back into a peaceful sleep; Luna followed quickly.
Harry stirred the next morning at the light coming in through his bedroom window. Even before he opened his eyes he was aware of something very warm and soft lying at his side. Blinking to get the sleep out of his eyes, he was shocked to find himself looking into Luna Lovegood's face. She was sound asleep, curled up against him. His first instinct was panic, as he backed up against the wall behind his bed.
'How did she ever get into my bed? ' He asked himself, 'and how am I ever going to get out of this?' He could always just wake her up and ask her to get out, but that didn't seem right. Why did these things always seem to happen to him? If the Dursley's ever found out he'd be dead for sure. And then Harry began to remember Luna's gentle kindness and compassion from the previous night, and how she always seemed to try and make things easier for him. His muscles relaxed, he lay back on the pillow, and the panic was gone.
Seeing no reason at all why he should wake her, he lay there and studied her sleeping face. He'd never known of anyone to smile in their sleep, but Luna was indeed smiling peacefully. Sleeping there, she looked very young and innocent. Harry wondered why he'd never thought of it before, but Luna was really quite pretty, in her own rustic way. But then, thinking about it for a moment, Harry came to the rather mature conclusion that Luna's beauty came from the inside, rooted in compassion, loyalty, and love. Cho had been very beautiful, but hers, on the other hand, was all on the outside. He was quite certain that he liked inner beauty more.
Harry had always been the kind of boy to act impulsively, and now he did just that. He leaned slowly forward and kissed Luna gently on the tip of her nose. As he pulled back he saw her eyes flutter open. Her silver eyes close up were so pure and beautiful. And as she gave him a sleepy smile, Harry felt his heart flutter.
"Good morning," she said dreamily, "How did you sleep?"
"Better than I ever have, thank you."
She looked at him questioningly, and then smiled. 'Where in the world did she get that beautiful smile' he thought to himself.
"Well, I guess we better get up now."
"Do we have to?" Harry said shyly, "I'd rather stay right here."
"Alright then," Luna responded matter-of-factly, "I just thought that you might want to spend the rest of the summer at my house. But if you're happy here…"
Quickly sitting up in bed, Harry just stared at her. "What…what did you say?" He asked, his voice shaking.
"Daddy talked to Professor Dumbledore yesterday. They decided that it would be better if you spent the rest of the summer with us."
"But I can't. The spell that protects me only works if I stay in the same house with my Aunt."
"Professor Dumbledore and members of the Order are establishing the same wards around our house that protect 'The Burrow.' He says you will be perfectly safe staying with us."
Harry couldn't believe it. "That's fantastic Luna, when can we….Wait a minute. Aren't you supposed to be on vacation in Sweden? Weren't you and your Father going to search for the Crumple-Horned Snorkack? What happened with that?"
Luna looked distinctly uncomfortable with the question, and blushed slightly pink. "Well…um, actually…Daddy is still there. But I found that I really didn't like camping very much. All that sleeping in bags and such. So I decided to come home early and start my summer homework. But if you come we can keep each other company."
Harry knew that Luna was lying, he knew how much she had been looking forward to this vacation, and the time she would be able to spend with her Father. She was giving it all up for him, and he knew it. He knew that the Lovegoods were not financially well off, and Luna might never have the chance to take such a trip again. Harry felt extremely grateful and a little bit ashamed. Grateful that someone cared enough about him to make such a sacrifice, and ashamed that he had only been thinking about his himself and his own pain. He hadn't thought about how all of this might affect his friends.
"I know that's not true, Luna," Harry said gently, "won't you please tell me the truth."
Luna tilted her head to one side and looked at him thoughtfully. For a moment he thought that she hadn't understood him. She stared at him with her misty silver eyes and whispered, "You needed me."
Tears welled up in Harry's eyes as he silently pulled Luna into a tight hug. He buried his face in her dirty blond hair and felt very fortunate that he had such a loyal friend. "Thank you Luna," he managed to choke out. Normally Harry would never do that with a girl, being by nature terribly shy, but somehow with Luna it seemed perfectly natural. And he knew that she was right; he did 'need her.' For her part, Luna held Harry just as tightly, and felt just as fortunate. The embrace lasted a long time, neither of them wanting it to end; somehow the close physical contact making them both feel better.
Drying his tears Harry managed to choke out, "so…when do we leave."
"Dad made me a Portkey that activates at 9:00."
Harry glanced at his bedside clock and saw that it was not quite seven. "I had better hurry if I'm going to be ready in time. It was only then that Harry realized, somewhat to his embarrassment, that he was still in his pajamas.
A worried look came over Harry's face. How was he going to get dressed? He couldn't exactly ask Luna to step out into the hall. If his Aunt and Uncle ever found out that he had slept with a girl, no matter how innocent it was, he would be locked in his bedroom for the rest of his life. And yet he couldn't get dressed with her standing there.
Luna seemed to read his mind and provided the solution. "Do you still have your invisibility cloak," she asked in a dreamy voice.
"Your invisibility cloak. Ginny told me that you had an invisibility cloak, and in your second year you used it to sneak into the restricted section of the library. Do you still have it?"
"Err, yes. It's in my trunk. Why to you ask?"
"Well, if you loaned it to me I could use the loo while you get dressed."
"That's a great idea," Harry exclaimed and started digging through his trunk. Pulling it out, he waited while Luna picked up a small overnight bag, and then carefully draped it over her head. She immediately vanished from view.
"Well, not quite," said Luna vaguely, "it's about a foot too long, but I'll manage."
Harry watched as his bedroom door slowly opened and then closed. "Luna? Are you still here?" Taking her lack of an answer as a no he pulled off his pajamas and pulled on jeans and a sweat shirt. A few minutes later, as he had just finished packing his truck, he saw his bedroom door mysteriously open and close again. Suddenly he saw Luna's head appear, seemingly floating in mid-air.
"This cloak is wonderful! A boy passed me in the hallway without a clue that I was there," she laughed.
"That would be my cousin, Dudley."
As Luna took off the cloak, Harry noticed that she had changed her clothing. Instead of the jeans and sweatshirt she had come in, she now wore a light blue sun dress and had her hair tied in a neat ponytail. It looked a little bit old fashioned, but somehow the look seemed to fit Luna. In fact, Harry thought that she looked quite fetching.
"Do I look alright?" she asked, somewhat unsure of herself.
"You look great," he exclaimed sincerely.
"Thank you," she said shyly, a slight blush coming to her face. "I thought if I was going to meet your relatives I had better dress in muggle cloths….Of course," she continued dreamily, "jeans are muggle cloths as well, aren't they."
"Well…err, yes. But I still think this is a nice look for you." Harry hadn't even given a thought to how he was going to tell his relatives that he was leaving for the rest of the summer, not that he thought they would really mind.
"I'm not really sure how I'm going to tell them I'm leaving, not that they will have a problem with it."
"Well…" Luna began in a conspiratorial tone, "I do have a plan."
"Well, let's hear it."
"You can go downstairs and tell your relatives that Professor Dumbledore sent you a message telling you to come to our house for the rest of the summer. Tell them that someone will be coming to pick you up about 8:30. I can use your invisibility cloak to sneak out the front door, and then knock on the door when the time comes. I can meet your relatives and then we can Portkey to my house."
Harry looked at her with awe. "I never realized that you were so sneaky," he said with a smile. "I think you just want to use the invisibility cloak a while longer."
"Could be," she said with a sly smile.
Luna donned the invisibility cloak once more and went downstairs with Harry. He looked into the kitchen, and seeing his relatives seated around the table, signaled Luna that it was okay to go.
Going into the kitchen, Harry took his usual place at the table. "Good morning Uncle Vernon, good morning Aunt Petunia," he said cheerfully.
"Well I knew it was too good to last, Petunia. He's still here," Uncle Vernon said snidely. "I can't say I missed you boy."
"Then I have some good news for you. Professor Dumbledore wants me to spend the rest of the summer with some friends of his…for security reasons." He hastily added.
"Excellent," Uncle Vernon responded, seemingly delighted. "How soon can you leave?"
"Someone will be stopping by to pick me up in a few minutes."
"Not any of those people we met at the railway station," Vernon Dursley said in alarm. He could just see Mad-eye Moody strolling down Privet Drive.
"No, it will be my girlfriend from school." Harry hadn't even realized that he had just called Luna his girlfriend, but Uncle Vernon certainly noticed.
"You have a girlfriend?" Uncle Vernon sputtered.
After a moments thought Harry answered, "Yes, I have a girlfriend, a very special one. Her name is Luna Lovegood."
"Luna? What kind of a weird name is Luna?" Uncle Vernon exclaimed. "Well its no never mind to me."
At that moment the front door bell rang. "I'll get it," Harry declared, and headed for the door.
Dudley followed him into the entryway. "Just where do you think you're going?" Harry asked.
"I want to see just what kind of a freak would have you as a boyfriend!"
That remark was all it took. Harry threw all his weight against Dudley and slammed him into the wall. Pinning him there, he pulled out his wand and held it against Dudley's nose. "You can say anything you like about me, but if you say one more word about Luna I'll give you a pig's nose to go along with your tail." As Harry talked, the color ran out of Dudley's face until he was pale as death. "Now I think you had better go up to your room and stay there until after I'm gone."
The second Harry released him Dudley made a dash for the stairs and Harry turned to open the door.
"Is everything all right?" Luna whispered.
"It couldn't be better," Harry answered, and taking her hand led her into the kitchen.
"Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, this is Luna Lovegood, she's a friend of mine from school."
"How do you do Mr. Dursley? I'm very happy to meet you," Luna said sincerely, extending her hand to Vernon Dursley. Whether out of shock, or because he was so conventional, he gave it a quick shake, before dropping her hand as if it were on fire.
Turning to Aunt Petunia, Luna again extended her hand. "And I'm so happy to meet you also, Mrs. Dursley. You have a very lovely home." A rather sweeping statement Harry thought, considering Luna had only seen the kitchen.
"It's nice to meet you too, Miss Lovegood," Petuna Dursley managed to choke out, but Harry could tell that her voice was strained.
An awkward silence then fell over the kitchen, as no one seemed willing to risk another word.
Finally, Luna turned to Harry and said, "I think we better get your trunk so that we don't miss our 'ride.'"
"Oh, right," Harry responded quickly, as he turned towards the door. "Well I guess I'll see you again next spring." He said casually to his relatives as he left.
The two teens then went up to Harry's bedroom and prepared to leave. They sat on Harry's trunk and held onto a small flower pot. Harry held Hedwig's cage with his free hand and Luna held her overnight bag. At exactly 9:00 Harry felt the familiar tug behind his navel, and they were on their way.